March of Dimes Announces Commitment to U.N.’S “Every Woman, Every Child” Program

First-Ever World Prematurity Day for Advocacy, Public Awareness

White Plains, New York | Tuesday, September 20, 2011

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The March of Dimes today announced its commitment to the United Nation’s “Every Woman Every Child” program with a new global advocacy and awareness campaign on the tragic toll of death and disability caused by preterm birth.

The centerpiece of the campaign is the first-ever annual World Prematurity Day to be held on 17 November 2011. Partners in this initiative are the European Foundation for the Care of Newborns and Infants, based in Germany and representing 18 countries across Europe; Little Big Souls International Charitable Foundation, based in Nigeria and operating in Ghana; and the National Premmie Foundation of Australia. Go to for more information.

“We applaud Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon’s efforts to improve the health of women and children around the world,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “Premature birth is an enormous global problem that takes a heavy toll emotionally, physically, and financially on families, medical systems and economies. Together we will work to put prematurity prevention and care for preterm infants at the top of the global public agenda to achieve our shared vision of healthier lives for all moms and babies.”

Dr. Howse noted that 13 million babies are born prematurely each year, and one million of these children die before their first birthday. Babies who survive an early birth often face lifetime health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, vision and hearing loss, and others. Although the causes of premature birth are not always clear, the March of Dimes says there are known ways to reduce the risk of prematurity and to enhance the survival and health of premature infants, even in highly resource-constrained nations.

The March of Dimes has pledged to support country-specific work through three main worldwide initiatives in 2011-2013.:

  • Development and publication of a Global Report on Premature Birth containing estimates of preterm birth rates for 192 countries.
  • Leadership and funding of an international conference of stakeholders to develop a multi-year action plan for intervention and research, with special focus on lower-income countries where the burden of preterm birth is the highest.
  • Creation and support of an international community of interested parents, professionals, NGOs, hospitals, donor organizations, and others at

About Every Woman Every Child
“Every Woman Every Child” is a global effort bringing together governments, philanthropic institutions and other funders, the United Nations and multilateral organizations, civil society and non-governmental organizations, the business community, health-care workers and professionals, and academic and research institutions around the world that support the “Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health”, which was launched during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit.

About March of Dimes

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.

For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites and To participate in our annual signature fundraising event, visit If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our community to find comfort and support. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.